What If (1) (2)

by Troy Kearns

Communicating and conversing with others is such an important part of our lives. It is how we build relationships, learn and share our thoughts and feelings. We impart knowledge, wisdom, and our life experiences with one another. There is, however, one vital aspect of communication that at times can be overlooked. Yes, communication certainly involves talking, but also, and arguably more importantly, requires listening.

Do you at times find yourself in a conversation with someone, and realise by the end of it you learned nothing new about that person because you were the one doing all the talking? Sometimes we can be so excited to talk about ourselves. We may not realise others may have something important to share. We have probably all been guilty of cutting someone off with something we want to say before the other person has finished their sentence or thought.

We are all made differently. Some people tend to be more vivacious and talkative, while others are more naturally subdued and passive. Regardless of our personality type, there is an onus on all of us to have the right approach and mindset to conversing with others.

In Scripture, God brings out the importance of listening and having the right attitude when communicating. Solomon tells us we can build wisdom and knowledge if we listen carefully to those who are wiser than us (Proverbs 5:1-2; 18:15). If we are puffed up with pride and have a high opinion of ourselves, we will assume we know better than others, and whatever we have to say will be more important than what others have to say. There are several places in Scripture where God admonishes us not to be wise in our own eyes (Romans 12:16; Proverbs 3:7; Isaiah 5:21). God warns us not to have this mindset, because it can have a devastating result (Proverbs 14:12). 


Solomon tells us that it is foolish to speak without carefully considering our words: “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Our words are important and can be used to great effect. With them we can raise people up and give encouragement. But our words can have an adverse effect and bring people down, if we’re not prudent about the words we speak and also how we speak. “Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6).

So now that we have seen the benefits of listening more during a conversation and the potential pitfalls of talking too much without careful consideration of what we are saying, here are some practical tips you can use during conversations:


1. Maintain eye contact.

If you are busy looking around and being distracted, the other person will sense you are disinterested. Keeping eye contact helps you focus on what is being said, while at the same time allows you to read facial expressions.

2. Ask questions.

This is a clear sign to the person you are talking with that you wish to know more about what they are saying and have a genuine interest in what they are telling you. By listening carefully, you will be able to ask questions more relevant to the conversation. There is also nothing wrong with asking clarifying questions if you haven’t completely understood what you have been told.

3. Go into a conversation with a serving attitude.

Perhaps, the person you have entered into a conversation with has had a difficult week and by listening to their worries or troubles, you can be a source of great help to them. Sometimes simply the act of listening and showing understanding is all a person needs. If appropriate, you may also offer some encouraging words.

4. Let the other person finish what they are saying.

As mentioned earlier, sometimes a thought comes to our head and it bursts out of our mouths without realising we have cut the other person off. Let the person you are conversing with finish their sentence or thought, before sharing your own thoughts. As Solomon wrote, “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Proverbs 18:2). Additionally, the Apostle James said, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).


So next time we are at Church services, remember that a conversation is a two-way street. Let us all approach our communication with each other with a servant attitude. Not to be wise in our own eyes, but listen carefully during conversations with one another to help build an atmosphere of genuine fellowship, positivity and unity in God’s Church.

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